In his latest book "Conservatives Without Conscience", John Dean paints a stark difference between Richard Nixon and George Bush. Dean recalled the day the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand over the infamous White House tapes. Nixon, Dean reveals, toyed with the idea of defying the high court. It was Nixon, after all, who had said that if the President does it, it's legal.
Pressured by his own party, Nixon spent a night talking to portraits and getting down on his knees in prayer with an embarrassed Henry Kissinger. By night's end, as the story goes, Nixon had had an epiphany. He would resign.
What brought him to a night of prayer was his decision to comply with an order to the US Supreme Court to turn over the secret recordings of his Oval Office conversations. They were notable for what was missing: an 18 minute gap, and also what was present: a tape recorded "smoking gun" in which then White House counsel John Dean had warned Nixon of a "cancer on the Presidency".
...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.Nixon was called an "imperial President". Interestingly, the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon were concerned with his abuse of the IRS, obstruction of justice in connection with the Watergate Scandal, and his various abuses of agencies to include the CIA. His secret bombing of Cambodia is not mentioned in the articles of impeachment against him. Nevertheless, Nixon's downfall is most certainly traced to hubris and disproportionate power invested in the modern Presidency.
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
Bush seems to have created a dictatorship by exploiting a national tragedy, by manipulating a wave of fear, by fanning the flames of racial and religious prejudice. He divided the world into two opposing camps: us and "evil-doers" and declared that if you disagreed with him, then you, too, were an "evil doer". Declaring that he did not do nuance, Bush made of stupidity a virtue.
He tipped his hand: "This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship ...just has long as I'm the dictator". Even as he was warned, he screamed, "stop throwing the Constitution up to me! The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper."
When he was always wrong, he got support from a "liberal" media. "What does being right have to do with anything?" asked Thom Friedman. The GOP -Bushco in particular -is not restrained by common sense, concepts of good and bad, right and wrong.
Republicans appreciate that they are more likely to maintain influence and control of the presidency if the nation remains under ever-increasing threats of terrorism, so they have no hesitation in pursuing policies that can provoke potential terrorists throughout the world.Dean's book is widely reviewed as a study of the insidious nature of the conservative mentality. It is that to be sure but it is more importantly, a study of how that mentality is leading us inexorably to dictatorship. Dean cites the work of Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba whose 1981 book Right Wing Authoritarianism may have diagnosed the Bushco pathology.
-John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience
Even the members of authoritarian groups appear to have changed during the '80s. The steely-eyed fanatic wearing a Nazi uniform and marching in Marquette Park (clearly one of "them") has been joined by the neatly dressed middle-class housewife throwing blood on abortion facilities. These authoritarian characters are so ordinary they could even be one of "us."Defined by symptoms identified by Altermyer and Dean, Bush's authoritarian dictatorship may have ushered in a new era in which states wage war not against other states but against civilian populations. Bush's war against Iraq, for example, is unlike any previous war; his goals are chaos, death, and annihilation. Bush was not only wrong about Iraq, it is clear that he deliberately lied about WMD in particular.
-Right Wing Authoritarianism
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.When nothing said by Bush turned out to have been true, Dean followed up with an article that asked Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?
From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
- Advertisement --George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 2003
To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."The Iraq war -now a debacle of unimaginable proportions -turned out to have been sold with a deliberate hoax. Colin Powell's presentation to the UN consisted of fabricated evidence, out of date satellite photos, bogus information by compromised informants, and, most notoriously, a plagiarized student paper. In fact, not getting the information he wanted to hear, Donald Rumsfeld created an Office for Special Plans tasked with telling him what he wanted to hear. The authoritarian diagnosis explains why it no longer matters to modern American conservatives that nothing mitigates the American occupation of Iraq -a grand theft begun upon a world wide hoax turned debacle.
-John Dean, Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?
More recently, the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon -a Bush battle by proxy -is just such a case. While there is still the possibility that Iran and Syria will ally and join the fray, Bush will only exploit that as well. An authoritarian dictatorship, Bush's stock and trade, is fear; being "right" does not matter. Clearly -Bush has never shown himself to be concerned with consequences. What does matter to Bush is that Iraq is now off the front pages and just in time for the mid-terms.